Category Archives: Spirituality

Ten Ways to Overcome Tragedy

Nancy K. Hayes
Nancy K. Hayes

You think the 50’s and 60’s will be a time for us women over fifty to refocus on our own hopes and dreams.  As baby boomers, the children are raised, and hopefully, financially independent.  It’s time to question the need of the big house with the big yard, a time to reassess, revamp everything from daily life to long-term plans.

But, for so many of us, tragedy shows up and wrenches our lives apart — heart attacks, breast cancer, the stark realization that your finances are not in the state they should be for pending retirement, or worse:  an out-of-the- blue death or divorce.

We’ve read much about recovering from a death, or divorce or cancer, but when it strikes in the 50-60’s, you’re more vulnerable, for you are no longer young, and less flexible because you are no longer young, but neither are you old enough to expect death and, divorce after thirty years of marriage seems as unlikely as losing an arm. It’s hard to go home to Mom and Dad at this age, although I’ve seen it done under the guise of caring for them. personal crisis

There are paths back to wholeness and life. The following techniques will vary in appeal depending on your beliefs and personality, but those who have traversed a personal crisis successfully have utilized them, not necessarily in this order, not really in any order, and sometimes, all in the same day.  And, remember — time is the ultimate healer.

meditation
meditation

1 .)  Meditation-  People who don’t meditate often say it’s because they don’t have time.  But when you go through a trauma, time seems to lag unbearably.  This is a good opportunity to start or build your practice.  Start with five or ten minutes and work up to half an hour.  Sit up comfortably (if you lie down you may fall asleep) and watch your breath go in and out.  If thoughts intrude, gently push them away and continue watching your breath.  Sounds too simple to matter, but this practice will center and calm you.  For more about meditation, Google Deepak Chopra.  Also, pilates and yoga offer a moving form of meditation.

2.)  Spiritual –  There is nothing like a trauma to make you wonder about God.  If you open yourself at this time, you will likely find God in whatever guise you perceive him.  Suffering seems to open the channel in a way that being happy or content just doesn’t.

3.)  Nothing – There seems to be a whole lot of what feels like “unproductive” time, time that you can’t account for.  Daydreaming? Crying? Moping? Whatever — do it.  Allow yourself to be unproductive.

daffodils

4.)  Gardening There is something about promoting life in any form that gives a primitive knock on the soul and mind that not only yes, life goes on but that life is a magnificent, driving force that will not be thwarted.  For me, the visual for this is the daffodil or tulip that forces through the asphalt.

5.)  Walking – Exercise and endorphins, yes, but walking offers a means to wake up to the world, the neighborhood and what’s going on, the beauty of nature, the feeling of the breeze on your cheek.

6.)  Reading – The self-help books do help, so do spiritual ones, but the best are probably the laugh-out-loud ones.  For me, that’s Carl Hiaasen.

7.)  Be with Friends and Family– You’ll think they don’t understand what you’re going through even though they try, and you’ll be right.  But they want to be there for you.  When I went through my particular trauma, my closest friends started Sunday Supper, a time where we all got together for a couple of hours, to sip wine, cook and chat.  It turned out to be a comfort to them as well.

8.)  Change of Scenery – Get out of town.  Go somewhere far from your usual haunts, somewhere out of your comfort zone. Everything will feel so unfamiliar that your pain will take a break due to shock.

9.)  Routine – And, conversely, find solace in your daily routine.  Filling the bird feeder, sweeping the front porch, feeding the dog, and, if you don’t have a job, volunteer somewhere where you can leave your own troubles behind.

10.)  Moving forward – Without realizing it, you’ll eventually begin to feel some forward movement.  You may continue to relapse into sadness or dismay from time to time, but the push forward towards life is a natural given, if you just let it happen.

From the forthcoming book, Breakdown in Swannanoa, available as an e-book in June of 2014.

A Retiring Mind Part II

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

Move over James T. Kirk, a retiring mind left to its own, totally uninterrupted and undiminished possession, goes beyond the final frontier. My fist size chunk of grey matter becomes my private Intergalactic Teleporter. I am the Queen of Flashback and Flash dancing memories!

Mind you, minding me, is a mix of guilty pleasure and alarming revelations. My mind jumps back to things half thought, wishful imagination and unsolicited information that hungers for a future that I have yet to charter with certainty. Some memories are surprising, others are stunners.

In 1968, I decided to stop wearing sanitary belts with Kotex as large as manhole covers.

Remember?
Remember?

(One of my friends did call them just that). These pads were like riding in a saddle. If you were a bleeder like me, an accident could gush out at any moment from back or front or both. One day I CHOSE to switch and use a new way to sop up my oozing womanliness. I got me a box of compressed cotton, less conspicuous, for the modern woman, TAMPONS. Proud of myself, I swaggered home with a variety of sizes that promised “going with the flow” like a real natural woman. I decided to become an expert: I practiced taking care of business with my new hygienic tools that severed the legacy of taking the rag off the bush.

I loved peeling off the thin wrappers of the tiny little feminine things. Holding my breath, stilling shaking legs, I pushed Tampon number one up a chute never travelled. It was a bit snug but not uncomfortable.  It pulled out easily enough. I was fascinated that something no bigger than my pinkie could swell, clog and hold back my monthly monsoon. So, Tampon number two, a larger size, was inserted. I walked around with my secret intact. I did a happy dance! It did not move! Who would know? I was now a woman of mystery. “Oh really” TAMPON number three, the largest, asked my body. Then it sucked up all mystery, ritual and moisture. No amount of pulling released the dry knot of cockeyed liberation from my body. You know you have a friend for life when your girlfriend comes to your rescue, respectively demonstrates a surgical skill for removing a foreign object, and does not ask any questions.

In 1975, I lived with a cannibal and two Jesuses. I lived commune style in a large Victorian House off Portobello Road in London. portobellos rd.The cannibal lived in the basement. We seldom interacted and rarely spoke to each other. I only went downstairs to bar-b-que on a homemade grill on hotter summer days. He never licked his lips over sizzling ribs with my secret sauce. He didn’t stand around telling me stories or appeared hungry as I made plates to sell to homesick Americans on Portobello Road. He always seemed sleepy and slow and quite possibly satiated. I wondered who he had eaten. However my pervasive shyness and southern sensibilities told me that was too personal of a question to ask.

On the other hand, it was impossible to not get personal with Jesus the Pure (as he was blond) and Jesus the Dark (who was a bit mangy looking). They lived in the hallways on separate floors. They were drawn together like magnets. They constantly fought and had to be pulled apart. Depending on who interrupted their epic battle, one or the other and sometimes both got thrown outside. They would fly at each other and use fists, feet and teeth. They never said a word as they delivered and received punches that knocked holes into walls, shattered glass and broke stairway banisters. Neither ever preached nor sang the gospels in the presence or absence of the other. My guess was that the forces of light and dark was really an on-going universal struggle.

Later, I discovered, “For F**** sake keep Jesus out” written on the walls, just as I opened the door for a visitor.  Under that somebody had scrawled, “Which one?” More written, “They both can go to hell”. The visitor and I stared at the wall. I had a nagging sense she thought I had wrote it. I was an 22 year old colored woman far from my Southern Los Angeles home and the very racist, newly integrating America.

I wonder how these two very specific memories serve me. What are the lessons?  Are they worth keeping or sweeping? Am I in the throes of another individuation process? I survived the parallel journeys from girl, maiden to crone and colored to black to American of African descent. memoriesAs an Elder, I am racing towards the finish line to get to my fullest humanity. I am going into a deeper space. I pray to enjoy and remember.

Amoke Kubat is a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.  http://amokekubat.com 

http://www.livingwombceremonies.com/

 

 

 

The Art of Receiving

 

Barbara Brady

How many of you are comfortable giving to others, but not so at ease when it comes to receiving or asking for help yourself? 

You’re not alone.  Especially if you’re a woman!  We’re taught from an early age that it’s our job to make sure everyone else is taken care of, even at our expense.  Sayings like “It’s better to give than to receive” don’t help.

 

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The truth is, if you’re blocking either giving or receiving, you’re blocking the natural flow of the universe. Giving is active, masculine energy, and receiving is passive, feminine energy.  Both are needed to be whole.

There’s also nothing “noble” about refusing help, gifts, or compliments. When you allow yourself to graciously receive, you’re giving a gift to the giver.  Think of how good it feels to give to another.  If you don’t allow others to do the same for you, you’re depriving them of those same good feelings.

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One way to become a better receiver is to change the thoughts that don’t support you in receiving to supportive (and believable) beliefs.  “It’s better to give than to receive” becomes “It’s best to give and receive to keep the divine flow of life moving through me”;  “I don’t want to bother anyone by asking for what I need” becomes “If I ask for what I need, I give someone the gift of giving, which feels good”; and “I don’t deserve this compliment, money, etc.” becomes “I am worthy and graciously accept this compliment, money, etc.”

Barbara Brady

Life Transitions Coach

 

Folklore: A Literary Influence

Annice and Elsie

To all our reader fans I’d like to say I finished Elsie Augustave’s novel, The Roving Tree, and feel you should all go out and buy it. But, hey, don’t listen to me, see what Essence Magazine told their readers last month.  So, while I decided not to write a review, I decided to ask the author (who was at our favorite Asheville bookstore, Malaprop’s) about the use of Folklore in literature.  And, being the writer that she is, Elsie wrote a piece for our blog readers entitled, Folklore: A Literary Influence.  I’m happy to present this article to you as a supplement to her novel and all other novels that use folklore as a literary influence.   

Elsie at Malaprop’s

My first literary experience as a young child in Haiti was my exposure to folktales that people told in the evenings when I spent summer vacations in rural Haiti. I would often daydream about the adventures of Bouki and Malice and other characters from the Haitian folktale repertoire, as I waited for people to engage again in the art of story-telling.

What most people perceive as supernatural and magical represent a Haitian perception of life, while it explains a correlation between a collective system of beliefs and cultural attitudes.  As I began to spend time among Africans, it became clear to me that folklore also plays a major role in understanding moral values and also reflects their perception of life, spirituality, and mysticism. 

Amidst these ethnographic explorations of Haitian identity and folk life, globalization and modernization, I seized the opportunity, within the pages of The Roving Tree, to bring a humane expression of Haitian, American, and African lives.

 

Elsie Augustave, author of The Roving Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* All photos and content are copyrighted material of Oops50

 

My Life Doesn’t Fit In My Jeans!

Cynthia Ackrill, MD

Ask an audience of 500 high-achieving women what isn’t fitting for them and you will get a lot of answers – from jeans to life to some things that truly can’t be printed! But over and over I hear recurring themes. We want to feel like our life fits, like our precious time and energy is spent in ways that reflect our values, in ways that make us feel effective, and in ways that leave us energy to take care of ourselves and have some fun! 

Why is this so hard? Why do so many truly remarkable women feel drained, their energy scattered in so many directions? To address this critical subject, we’ve invited Cynthia Ackrill, MD to share her expertise and understanding with our readers.

The secret may be in the error of the phrase I just used: “in ways that leave us energy to take care of ourselves and have some fun!” This is completely backwards! Yet, it is such a pervasive concept it is part of our culture. We take care of ourselves last, even give ourselves and each other kudos for the sheer martyrdom of it all. We are secretly competitive to do more than those around us. We are continually rewarded for external achievement, not for our ability to balance healthy self-care with managing the challenges of careers and lives. Sure, you might get noticed for dropping some weight, but it is rare for our culture- corporate or otherwise- to recognize the art of life balance.

Yet aren’t we drawn to those folks who have that grounded-ness, that vitality that comes from putting themselves on their own to-do list? And don’t we really know, somewhere deep inside, that making sure we have stoked the fires of our energy resources pays off–getting enough sleep, good nutrition, movement, recreation, social connection, etc. We certainly know it when we send children off to school. We know their little bodies must have the basic needs met to learn. Yet we expect our brains to be creative when cheating our rest and nutrients.  

Energy spent must be replaced. It’s not linear, by any means. Beyond the basic human needs, what refuels us varies. But we are all systems that operate best when balanced. And often it takes so little to tip the scales back toward balance. 10 minutes of me-time in the middle of a day can recharge batteries for hours. 10 minutes! 2 minutes of breath work can reset your brain and heart- how cool!

What can you do for yourself today to help your life fit? To reclaim some energy for your fabulous life?

To learn more about Cynthia Ackrill, speaker, coach and president of WellSpark, please visit her at her website.